The radicalized man, suspected of having killed two Swedes during an attack Monday evening and who was shot dead by police the next morning in Brussels, had served a prison sentence in Sweden, it was announced on Tuesday October 17, Swedish Migration Agency. “He served a prison sentence in Sweden in 2012-2014,” the office’s spokesperson, Jesper Tengroth, told Agence France-Presse, who refused to specify the reason for the sentence and its duration. .

Tengroth said the man had been transferred from Sweden “to another European country under the Dublin Regulation,” which requires migrants to seek asylum in the European country where they first arrive.

In Belgium, the investigation continues and, for the authorities, he probably acted alone. “The lone wolf thesis seems closest to reality,” said federal prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw during a press conference after a meeting of the National Security Council. There is, at this stage, “no indication of a network” which would be at the origin of the attack, added the Belgian Minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne.

The attacker, a 45-year-old Tunisian presented as Abdesalem Lassoued, was staying illegally in Belgium after the rejection of an asylum request in 2020, and targeted by an order to leave the territory which was never executed. The Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, pleaded for better application of these decisions for those who “do not have the right to protection”. Such an order “must become more restrictive,” the Flemish liberal leader said.

The assailant was pronounced dead at 9:38 a.m.

The double homicide, described as a “cowardly attack” by Mr. De Croo, was carried out not far from downtown Brussels on Monday, shortly after 7 p.m., a few hours before a football match between Belgium and Sweden at the stadium King Baudouin. The attacker killed two Swedish supporters with an automatic weapon and injured a third before fleeing on a scooter.

The perpetrator fled and was searched for a dozen hours, before being spotted on Tuesday, shortly after 8 a.m., by a witness in a café in the Brussels commune of Schaerbeek, where he lived. During the police intervention, “shots were fired and the suspect was shot,” said the federal prosecutor. He was transferred to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:38 a.m.

“An AR-15 type weapon” was found in the café where the arrest took place, Mr. Van Leeuw said. There were a total of four searches after the attack and two people from the suspected shooter’s entourage were arrested for questioning.

Terrorist threat reduced to level 3

As of Monday evening, a video message of protest had been posted on social networks by a man “presenting himself as the attacker and saying he was inspired by the Islamic State”, again according to the federal prosecutor’s office, responsible for terrorism cases.

The terrorist threat was then raised to level 4, the maximum level. The situation was considered “very serious.” She was moved back to Level 3 on Tuesday after the suspect’s death.

On Wednesday the Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, whose country is in shock, is expected in Brussels for a joint tribute with Alexander De Croo planned for the morning at Place Sainctelette, near the scene of the attack. “Never in recent history have Sweden and Swedish interests been as threatened as today,” Kristersson told the press in Stockholm.

Desecration of the Quran

In the video claiming the suspect, the Swedish nationality of the victims was mentioned as a “probable motivation for the act”, a link being established with the desecrations of the Koran in Sweden which moved the Muslim world, noted the Belgian authorities.

On August 17, Sweden had to raise its terrorist risk alert level to four on a scale of five due to the tensions aroused by the Koran burnings that have occurred on its soil since the start of the year. The desecrations deteriorated relations with several Muslim countries, the Swedish embassy in Baghdad having been burned in July while a Molotov cocktail targeted the representation in Beirut in August.

Belgium has already been the target of several attacks claimed by the Islamic State organization. The deadliest, which caused the death of 35 people, was perpetrated on March 22, 2016. That day, Brussels was hit by a double suicide attack at Zaventem airport and in the metro, right in the neighborhood European.